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GIMP File Formats

Now that you've saved your image in XCF format, here's a list of the other image formats that GIMP supports.

Don't worry about memorizing these just yet! When it comes time to save your images, the main image formats for the web are JPEG, GIF, and PNG. For print you'd be looking at EPS or TIFF, and maybe PSP (if you're exchanging images with a designer who has Adobe Photoshop). Of course, if you're saving for print, you'd need to ensure that your images were created at a high enough resolution. But that's another lesson!

Popular File Formats

These file formats are well known and their usage is quite widespread.

File Format Extension(s) Description
XCF .xcf/
.xcf.gz/.gz/.xcfgz/ .xcf.bz2/.bz2/.xcfbz2/ .gbr/.gih/.pat
GIMP's native format which will preserve all image data, including layer, the current selection, channels, transparency, paths and guides. Note that it doesn't save undo history.

XCF images take up a lot of disk space, and are not supported by most image viewers, which is why XCF is more suitable for saving images for future editing (rather than image exchange).

If you must exchange a XCF file, you can use the compress option, which uses either gzip (using xcf.gz/gz/xcfgz extension) or bzip2 (using xcf.bz2/bz2/xcfbz2 extension) compression.

Other GIMP's native format includes GIMP Brush (.gbr), GIMP Animated Brush (.gih), and GIMP Pattern (.pat).

BMP .bmp/.dib Bitmap is an uncompressed image format, which is the internal image format for Windows and OS/2 Graphic Subsystem.
GIF .gif

Graphic Interchange Format is often used for screenshots and computer graphics. It is lossless if the image has under 256 color or otherwise it become lossy.

The GIF format allows transparent mask, which means a pixel can only be fully transparent or fully opaque, and not partially transparent.

HTML .htm/.html Hypertext Markup Language. GIMP will save an HTML page with the image represented by an HTML table. Each table cell represents a different pixel in the image. Hexadecimal colors are used in order to apply colors to each cell.
ICO .ico Icon Image File Format is Windows' image format for icons.
JPEG .jpg/.jpeg/.jpe Joint Photographic Experts Group is typically used for photographs. JPEG uses lossy compression that results in a loss of detail, commonly called artifacts. The artifacts are usually most noticeable on images that have sharp edges, while less noticeable on photographs, which have many smooth gradients.
PNG .png Portable Network Graphic is often used for screenshots and computer graphics. It uses lossless compression. It allows full alpha transparency.
PNM .pnm/.ppm/.pbm/ .pgm/.pam Portable Pixmap. PNM (Portable Any Map, a shorthand for ppm, pbm, and pgm format), PPM (Portable Pixel Map), .pbm (Portable Bit Map), .pgm (Portable Gray Map) and .pam (Portable Arbitrary Map).
PS and EPS .ps/.eps Postscript Document and Encapsulated Postscript
PSD .psd Photoshop Document, the native format of another popular graphic editing software, Adobe Photoshop.
TGA .tga Truevision Graphics Adapter, Targa's native image format.
TIFF .tif/.tiff Tagged Image File Format
XBM .xbm X Bitmap 2-bit, Monochrome Bitmap for X Window System
XPM .xpm X Pixelmap Color Bitmap for X Window System

Less-Popular File Formats

The GIMP also supports the following, less popular, file formats.

Extension(s) Description
.pix/.matte/.mask/.alpha/.als Alias/Wafefront Pix Image
.fli/.flc Autodesk FLIC Animation
.c/.h C/C Header Sourcefile Format
.dcm/.dicom Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine Image
.fit/.fits Flexible Image Transport System
.cel KISS Cel
.sgi/.rgb/.bw/.icon Silicon Graphic IRIS Image
.im1/.im8/.im24/im32/.ras/.rs SUN Rasterfile Image
.pcx/.pcc ZSoft PCX Image
.xwd X Windows Dump

Limted Support

The GIMP can read, but not write, files in the following formats.

Extension(s) Description
.g3 G3 Fax Image
.wmf/.apm Microsoft WMF File
.psp/.tub Paintshop Pro
.pdf Printable Document File
.svg Scalable Vector Graphic

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